Why breaking a mirror is said to bring seven years of trouble and how to repair the damage

Since the time of ancient Rome, who breaks one mirror he is afraid to meet seven years of bad luck. There superstitionvery popular today, became widespread shortly after construction of the first glass mirrorswhich occurred approximately in the 1st century AD, due to the magical meanings attributed to the reflection of one's own image and, more specifically, to the belief that the reflected image contained the soul of people. Over the centuries, many have been “invented”. remedies to “undo the damage” and avoid the infamous seven years of misfortune.

The origins of the broken mirror superstition

The broken mirror superstition developed in the Roman world, a few centuries after the first glass mirrors were built. Already previous cultureslike the Greek one, believed that the reflected image had a magical meaning and revealed the soul of people, but at the time mirrors were made of polished metal and, as a result, they were unlikely to break.

bronze mirror from the Egyptian age

The first glass mirrors, still very rudimentary, were built in 1st century AD C. and the superstition is attested from about two hundred years later. Even the Romans, in fact, attributed magical-religious meanings to the reflected image and believed that the divinities spied on the soul of men through mirrors. Consequently, breaking the mirror was believed to be “bad luck” because that is what it meant to wrong the deities who, in reaction, would have punished the person responsible with seven years of misfortune.

The worst case was if it broke a mirror while you were looking at itbecause, by shattering one's image, it was as if one were shattering one's soul.

The birth of superstition, however, is also due to one economic reason: in the past mirrors were very precious objects (only with the industrial revolution of the 18th-19th centuries did they become a mass product) and breaking one was equivalent to suffering economic damage.

But why do misfortunes last seven years? Again, the origin of superstition dates back to the time of ancient Rome. The Romans believed that life was renewed every seven yearsafter which the “damage” caused by the broken mirror ended.

What to do if a mirror breaks?

But, if you break a mirror, how do you avoid getting into trouble for seven years? Over the centuries, popular creativity has developed various solutions. The most common is to collect all the pieces of the broken mirror and throw them into a river, so that the current carries away the evil. Alternatively, you can leave the pieces on the ground for a few hours without touching them, or bury them to prevent them from continuing to reflect your image.

However, there is also a much more effective remedy: remember that, as in the case of other superstitions, breaking a mirror It has neither positive nor negative effects. It's just a pain because you have to pick up the pieces from the floor.

An ordinary make-up mirror (credits Mattia Luigi Nappi)

The fear of mirrors and one's own reflected image

A different case is the fear of mirrors, so called spectrophobiaand from that of seeing one's own reflected image, called eisoptrophobia. They are two of many “specific phobias”that is, relating to individual objects or situations, and, despite having no rational basis, cause states of anxiety and, in the most serious cases, even panic attacks.

Spectrophobia and eisoptrophobia are often associated with the broken mirror superstition: those who are already afraid of mirrors are even more worried about seeing a broken one. The two phobias, however, do not fall under superstitions, but into psyche disorders.